Duke Vs. Cobra Commander
All Hail Duke, Duke Is Life
G.I. Joe Retro Collection
Hasbro Pulse Shared Fan Channel Exclusive
Item No.: No. F4926
Includes: 2 figures, helmet, bazooka, jet pack with harness, backpack, two rifles, three pistols, bomb controls, communicator, 2 binoculars, flag, cobra staff, communicator... am I forgetting anything?
Action Feature: Removable helmet for Duke, Cobra Commander's default pistol fits in his back groove
Availability: ca. August 2022
Other: These are o-ring figures. Oh are they?
As time goes on, you can charge more for what used to be cheap. O-ring Joes in the 1980s were dirt cheap. Back in 2005, you could get three o-ring Joes and a full-size comic book reprint for $9.99 - which was cheap even then! Today, the reissue (seemingly new tooling) Duke Vs. Cobra Commander puts two figures from 1982 in a new box with extra gear for a whopping $41.99. Adjusted for inflation 2 figures and an accessory pack would probably be in the $20-$25 range. Hasbro's retro Star Wars Kenner figures seemed expensive at $10, and the Joes don't have an added license fee. They do, however, have a pretty generous compliment of accessories and a limited audience.
These reissues are incredibly close to the general feel of the originals, but with slightly more flexible hands. Hasbro started doing this back in the 2000s so the thumbs were less likely to snap off. Both Duke and Cobra Commander were painted to look slightly more like their cartoon appearances - Old Snake's belt and shirt are a dead giveaway. Duke retains his toy-style eyes, but is otherwise a bit more saturated like his cartoon appearance. These seem to be shooting for the same market Super7 was going for with its Ultimates and ReAction Figures, offering arguably better products at a similar (but expensive for what they are) price.
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I never had a Cobra Commander until the 2000 line and my first Duke was in the comic packs. For me, this means that these new guys exist in some area not entirely unlike nostalgia. They're less glossy than the Joes I had as a little kid, and the coloring is more vibrant with more paint applications. The sculpting remains simple, but much like Hasbro's reissues of the Kenner Star Wars line, they seem a little bit softer. The edges aren't as crisp, but they're still pretty good (and better than the figures from a galaxy far, far away.) The articulation is still excellent, and I both appreciate and cringe at the o-ring construction. Obviously, I'm going to have to replace them down the road. The figures pose well and have no problems holding their gear. They easily fit in most toy vehicles for their scale thanks to the articulation and the fact nobody has giant feet or any non-standardized body parts. They were designed to be toys, accessories to the more expensive vehicles. And it was good. Until the kids grew up and decided to not buy these as much anymore.
Duke's eye paint is a little wonky, which seems to be increasingly a problem with modern retro figures. He's brighter and more colorful than his ancestor and comes armed with with a jet pack, a flag base inspired by the 2007-ish line, a bazooka, and lots of other extras. That's in addition to the original Duke figure's helmet, binoculars, and gun. Cobra Commander also has the original's gun plus lots of other cartoon-inspired pistols, a bomb screen thing, a Cobra staff, binoculars, and more things for you to misplace. There's enough here that I bet long-term collectors can look at the total package of two carded figures in a box and see it as $42 arguably well-spent, but at these prices I'll probably limit my collecting to this set and the comic pack figures that I still haven't sold off yet. It's fun to finally have an original-style Cobra Commander to play around with, particularly since he fits in so well with mini-rigs and one of my favorite G.I. Joe vehicles - the Mole Pod. What a treat it is! Anyway.
In the 1980s, G.I. Joe were largely considered to be the very best action figure line for young boys of my peer group. It makes sense, these Joes have more joints and more gear. I assume Kenner's aliens and robots were not as cool as military adventuring to children of that era. Back in the day I got a kick out of Cobra Commander's Yosemite Sam-esque behavior, but I can't remember anything interesting about most of the good guys. (Sorry, good guys.) It's a pricey set given similarly constructed Mego action figures with more parts at over twice the size cost the same - or less. And are licensed.
I'd recommend this two-pack if you love this style of cartoony updates (and why wouldn't you?) or if you want a retro-style Cobra Commander with tons of cool stuff for less than the price of the genuine article on eBay. Heck, you could probably sell off one of the figures (or the gear) to make back a good chunk of what the set costs. At this price I doubt o-ring action figures will have a big future, but who knows? If you make the right character and appeal to the age group who has a regular paycheck, odds are you could sell a handful of really great figures before fans shrug and start to worry about mortgage payments during the inevitable recession.
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